News Release: English River First Nation Recognized for Leadership in Advancing Canada’s Plan for Used Nuclear Fuel Management
Community not continuing to next phase of study
English River First Nation, November 21, 2013 – The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has completed the first phase of preliminary assessment in collaboration with English River First Nation and seven others of the 21 communities engaged in learning about Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel. English River First Nation and Pinehouse in Saskatchewan, and Ear Falls and Wawa in Ontario, were not selected for further study in the process for identifying a preferred site for a deep geological repository and associated Centre of Expertise. The communities of Creighton in Saskatchewan, and Hornepayne, Ignace and Schreiber in Ontario, were identified for more detailed study.
Completing Phase 1 studies with the first eight communities marks an important milestone in the site selection process and a scheduled point of stock-taking. Guided by findings from this first phase of work, the NWMO has started to take decisions about where it will focus the next phase of studies.
At this point in the process, the NWMO is recognizing the contribution all eight communities have made to advancing Canada’s plan for safely managing used nuclear fuel over the long term. In acknowledging their significant contributions, the NWMO will provide $400,000 to each community upon its establishment of a Community Well-Being Reserve Fund.
“Through their leadership, these communities have advanced this major national project on behalf of all Canadians,” said Kathryn Shaver, Vice-President of APM Engagement and Site Selection at the NWMO. “Each has helped design and lead dialogues to ensure important questions about safety are asked and learning continues. By working within their communities and through early outreach to neighbours and Aboriginal peoples, they have underscored the importance of working together and helped set the stage for the next several years of study.”
Administered by the communities, Community Well-Being Reserve Funds will support continuing efforts by each community to build sustainability and well-being. Examples of activities the funds could support include projects, programs or services that benefit community youth or seniors, community sustainability, energy efficiency or economic development initiatives. Other communities engaged in the site selection process will be similarly recognized upon completion of their Phase 1 studies.
“Although English River First Nation will not be continuing in the NWMO site selection process, we are proud of the contribution we have made to the national discussion,” said Chief Marie Black of English River First Nation. “Establishment of a Community Well-Being Reserve Fund will provide our members with opportunities to work together and continue building a stronger community based on a common vision of traditional values all of us hold dear.”
Preliminary Assessments are the third of nine steps in a multi-year process for evaluating potential suitability of communities to host a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel and an associated Centre of Expertise. Phase 1 assessments evaluated in a preliminary way the potential for an area to meet or exceed strict safety and geoscientific requirements, and to align with the community’s long-term goals and vision. Any site selected in the future must have an informed and willing host, meet strict scientific and technical criteria for protecting people and the environment for the very long term, and meet or exceed regulatory requirements.
It is expected to take several more years to complete the necessary studies to identify a preferred site. Interested communities may choose to end their involvement at any point during the site evaluation process, until a final agreement is signed, subject to all regulatory requirements being met and approvals received.
Findings to date do not confirm suitability of any site, and no community has expressed willingness to host the project at this early point. These findings do not affect work in the 13 other communities involved in earlier stages of the process.
About the NWMO
The purpose of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is to develop and implement, collaboratively with Canadians, a management approach for the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel that is socially acceptable, technically sound, environmentally responsible and economically feasible. The NWMO was created in 2002 by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers. Ontario Power Generation Inc., NB Power Nuclear and Hydro-Québec are the founding members, and along with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, fund the NWMO’s operations. The NWMO derives its national mandate from the Federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, which came into force in November 2002.
About English River First Nation
English River First Nation (ERFN) is based in Patuanak, Saskatchewan, and is made up of 18 different reserves under this name. ERFN emerged from the signing of Treaty 10 in 1906. The total membership of ERFN is 1,480, with roughly half those members living on-reserve and half living off-reserve. ERFN offers a wide range of services to its community in the areas of housing, health, education, social assistance and recreation. ERFN’s mission statement is as follows: “English River First Nation will preserve and protect English River First Nation customs and traditions. It will preserve and promote the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual values while it leads us into the future with a holistic and respectful mindset of a prospering nation.”
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository, in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.
Founded in 2002, the NWMO has been guided for more than 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Holders that are developing innovative and collaborative solutions for nuclear waste management. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2024, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.